EKU Coach Hope Expected to Replace Purdue's Tiller After 2008 Season

By: Cliff Brunt, Associated Press
By: Cliff Brunt, Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Purdue might announce the successor to football coach Joe Tiller as soon as Friday, a person familiar with the coaching search said.

The person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because negotiations are ongoing, said Thursday that the 65-year-old Tiller will coach the Boilermakers in 2008, and the successor would take over after that.

The date and time of the announcement are uncertain, the person said, because the details are still being worked out.

Several media outlets have reported Eastern Kentucky coach Danny Hope will be hired as assistant head coach, then become head coach in 2009.

The person familiar with the search declined to comment on the reports.

The 49-year-old Hope was an offensive line coach on Tiller's staffs at Wyoming, then Purdue, before leaving the Boilermakers after the 2001 season.

After one season as assistant head coach at Louisville, Hope is 35-22 in five winning seasons at Eastern Kentucky.

In 2007, he led the Colonels to a 9-3 record and the Ohio Valley Conference title and was a Football Championship Subdivision Regional Coach of the Year.

Attempts by The Associated Press to reach Hope by telephone were unsuccessful, and e-mails to his Eastern Kentucky account are being routed to an office associate.

"Any information about the coaching position at Purdue needs to come from Purdue," Eastern Kentucky athletic director Mark Sandy said.

Tiller came to Purdue from Wyoming in 1997 and brought a spread passing attack that helped revive a program that had gone through three coaches and just two winning seasons in the previous 16 years.

"We've changed the culture surrounding the football program," Tiller said before the 2007 season. "I think that we certainly have changed the expectation level, and I don't know if that's good or bad."

It was both.

Tiller's teams went 83-54 from 1997 through 2007, one win short of the record 84 won by Jack Mollenkopf in 1956-69. Under Tiller, the Boilermakers made 10 bowl appearances in 11 years, including the high point in 2000 when Drew Brees led the team to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1967 and was third in the Heisman Trophy voting.

Purdue's success, however, created such high expectations that the Boilermakers' failure to reach the perennial elite status of traditional Big Ten powers Michigan and Ohio State fueled frustration by many fans.

Purdue started last season 5-0, but consecutive losses to the Buckeyes and Wolverines doomed the Boilermakers once again to second-tier status in the conference. They finished the regular season with three straight losses — including their first to rival Indiana since 2001 — before outlasting Central Michigan 51-48 in the Motor City Bowl to finish at 8-5.

Even then, with three more years on Tiller's contract with Purdue, the grumbling never subsided.

Neither did Tiller's enthusiasm for the college game.

"I enjoy the college environment, so much so that I don't see myself ever doing anything other than this," the coach said at the start of last season. "Right now, I couldn't tell you when I would no longer be doing it."

Defensive end Anthony Spencer, a captain in 2006 and a rookie this year with the Dallas Cowboys, said Tiller is trying to relate better to today's players.

"He's definitely a good coach, but he's probably more stuck in the old ways," Spencer said. "He has been working to become more of a players' coach. I could see that last year, and yeah, it helped a lot."

Tiller's only losing season with Purdue was in 2005, when the Boilermakers went 5-6 with what he said was one of his most athletic teams. The downfall, he said, was they didn't approach the game properly.

"That was, in my opinion, personnel driven, and we've made those corrections," Tiller said.


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